Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: This is an interesting game to watch. The Colts come into this game at 13-0 and holding an NFL-record 22-game winning streak as everyone already knows. They have already clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs, and have no real motivation to go all out in this game. Meanwhile, Jacksonville sits at 7-6 and could greatly boost their playoff aspirations with a win tonight against the Colts. As we all know, division games are the toughest to play because there is rivalry and you play each other twice a year, so tendencies are picked up and focused on, especially in the second meeting between teams. This game has all the makings of an upset, and while I believe the Colts would like to finish the season undefeated, they realize that the bigger prize is the Super Bowl. This one has all the makings of an upset, and I’m going to make it my Upset Pick of the Week.
Jags 24, Colts 20
Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints: This is a game featuring polar opposites. The Cowboys come into this one struggling through yet another disappointing December. Tony Romo looks terrible, Wade Phillips looks like he doesn’t know how to coach, and Jerry Jones looks ready to hire a new head coach and possibly get a new quarterback. The Saints meanwhile have become America’s darlings this season. Going 13-0 with a high-powered, never-anything-but-fun to watch offense that scores on big plays from a little man with 5’9 Drew Brees leading the charge. While many Cowboy fans would like to believe this is the week where Dallas turns around their December misfortunes, I think the Saints continue their winning ways towards locking up home field advantage in the NFC.
Saints 31, Cowboys 20
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets: Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in New York when the Jets take on the Falcons. New York is back to winning again, sitting at 7-6 and only a game out of the division lead in the AFC East. While everyone has been focused on Miami pushing the Pats, the Jets have quietly kept pace and are in a position where anything can happen. The Falcons meanwhile have been bitten by the injury bug and are suffering since a good start. Quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner have both missed games the past couple of weeks as Atlanta have all but fallen out of the playoff picture in the NFC. Factor those injuries in with the fact that the Falcons are a pretty bad road team and you get a J-E-T-S win.
Jets 20, Falcons 13
San Francisco 49ers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: A big-time game for both of these teams in their hopes of making the postseason. The Niners are coming off of a huge, dominating win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football and have an outsiders chance at sneaking into the playoffs if they can win out and get a couple of lucky breaks. Meanwhile the Eagles now control their own destiny in the NFC East with a one-game lead over the Cowboys and Giants. Philly is playing better than any NFC team not named the Saints and despite San Francisco being desperate, should pull out a big win this weekend as well.
Eagles 27, Niners 17
Houston Texans vs. St. Louis Rams: In one of many games with no playoff implications, the fading Texans meet the hopeless Rams. There are really only two things to watch in this game, Andre Johnson before he inevitably forces his way out of Houston in the off-season, and the Rams fighting to keep the number one pick in this years draft so they can finally draft the quarterback they’ve needed over the past couple of years. Texans should take this one, but expect a big day from Steven Jackson for the Rams.
Texans 27, Rams 10
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills: This is a key divisional game that could shake up the entire AFC East. If the Pats win they will at the very least maintain their one game lead over the Dolphins and Jets going into Week 16. But Bills upset this weekend could potentially create a three-way tie atop the AFC East and give us one of the most interesting division races we’ve seen in a while over the last two weeks of the season. There is nothing the Bills would like to do more than fix their own disappointing season by ruining the Pats season, but I don’t think they will be able to. Look for Randy Moss to have a big day and outclass TO this weekend.
Patriots 24, Bills 14
Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens: Talk about disappointment, the Bears come in to this game as possibly the biggest disappointment in the NFC, depending on if where you had Carolina in the pre-season. Many people thought Jay Cutler was going to come in and be the savior the Bears needed, but he has been nothing short of awful in his first year with Chicago. Although it is too early to tell, the trade looks very much like a disappointment. The Ravens meanwhile are fighting for their playoff lives in the very competitive AFC and have to get this home win if they want any chance to make it to the postseason.
Ravens 24, Bears 13
Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans: A couple weeks ago, who would have ever though this game could have such serious playoff implications? But here we are at Week 15 and the winner of this game could possibly have an inside track to the playoffs. The Dolphins have shocked a lot of people and are sitting at 7-6, just a game behind the struggling Patriots in the AFC East. The Titans meanwhile are 6-1 since a disappointing 0-6 start, and shockingly could win their way into the playoffs. If all goes right for them this weekend, (i.e. A win, Jags loss, Jets loss, Ravens loss, all very possible) the Titans could find themselves in a tie for the sixth playoff spot in the AFC. This game has huge implications and the teams are both evenly matched, in which case you always go with the home team.
Titans 24, Dolphins 21
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Really, not much to say about this stinker. The Browns look to be packing it in so that they can get the number one pick, and the Chiefs are just trying to finish the season strong after such a disappointing start. Although the Browns have been playing well recently, including a shocking win over the Steelers, I think they come back down to earth and the Chiefs take this one.
Chiefs 14, Browns 13
Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions: What’s the perfect remedy for a team that was dismantled on national television by a team they should have beaten? A game against the Detroit Lions. The only way this could have been any better for the Cardinals would have been if it were a home game, but in all seriousness they should get back on track and have their way with the Lions, regardless of if Larry Fitzgerald plays with a knee sprain or not. The thing that worries me the most about the Cards however is their lack of a third receiver, when Fitzgerald went out, Steve Breaston became the number one and Anquan Boldin (remember him?) became the second receiver, but Boldin provided almost no threat whatsoever. Should be interesting to see if he can get it going against the lowly Lions.
Cardinals 31, Lions 13
Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Cue the old-school music, AFL rivalry montages and videos of these two teams going at it. One of the oldest rivalries in the NFL takes the field again in Denver when the Broncos host the Raiders. Despite some big wins for Oakland, they are running into a Denver team playing for their playoff lives, and are missing their spark at quarterback with Gradkowski being out. Charlie Frye will start, meaning Jamarcus Russell is now a third-stringer; can we officially call him a bust? The Broncos meanwhile seem back on track after a four-game losing streak and are trying to keep up with the Chargers in hopes of stealing away the division.
Broncos 27, Raiders 6
Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers: This one has Game of the Week written all over it. The Chargers and Bengals battle in a game that will most likely ultimately end up deciding the second seed in the AFC playoffs. The winner of this game will probably get a bye and a home game in the divisional round, while the loser will be relegated to Wild Card weekend. The Bengals have been up and down of late, but seem to be back on track and on their way to winning the AFC North. However they are running into a buzz saw known as the Chargers. San Diego has won an NFL-record 16 consecutive December games, and are on an 8-game winning streak. The Chargers seem destined for the two-seed and an AFC Championship game showdown with the Colts.
Chargers 24, Bengals 17
Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: If you asked me a few weeks ago which team would be fighting for the three-seed in the playoffs while the other was reeling with five consecutive losses I would have told you the Steelers would be team A and the Packers would be team B. However as we sit today the Packers are quite possibly the third best team in the NFC and the Steelers are 6-7, on the outside looking in come playoff time. Green Bay is finally putting it together and looks like a legitimate threat come playoff time, especially with a game at Lambeau. Pittsburgh meanwhile is reeling and needs to not only win out but get some major help to make it to the playoffs. That all being said, I will never bet against the Steelers at home in a must-win game, even after they lost to the Browns and Raiders in consecutive weeks.
Steelers 21, Packers 20
Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Seattle Seahawks: Another game with not much to talk about. Both teams are going to miss the playoffs and the only real implications in this game are whether or not the Bucs keep their stranglehold on the first pick in the draft. Seattle has been disappointing as well, losing games you expect them to win and fading out of the playoff race altogether. But I won’t pick against a home team, especially with the road team having to travel cross-country to play.
Seahawks 21, Bucs 7
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers: The Vikings head into this game looking to clinch at least the two-seed in the NFC and have a very very very slim chance at taking the number one seed if the Saints collapse in their finals three games. Carolina meanwhile is just trying to end a disappointing season and avoid a blowout loss at home heading into an off-season where there will be some major changes made. Brett Favre should have his way against the Panthers, but look for Adrian Peterson to dominate this game on the ground.
Vikings 27, Panthers 14
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins: This one seemed like a good Monday nighter at the beginning of the season, an NFC East division rivalry that would have big implications in the NFC East. But looking at it now, it seems like a game that will probably be boring and most likely end up a Giants blowout. The G-Men are struggling right now, and sit a game behind the Eagles in the NFC East. They need some help to win this division and make the playoffs, but first they need to win this game against the Skins who have played tough the past couple of weeks, including a narrow home-loss to the Saints. This has upset potential but I think the Giants pull it out.
Giants 24, Redskins 13